Monday, February 05, 2018


We've been told many times by Very Serious People that the Democratic Party can't possibly win elections until it tells the American public what it stands for -- opposing Donald Trump just isn't enough. That's odd, because the Republican Party seems to be abandoning issues altogether (apart from patting itself on the back for the tax cut), and now appears to be headed into 2018 with a six-word platform: Booga booga! Clinton ... Obama ... deep state!

First, Republican hacks Fred Siegel and Mark Epstein published this at City Journal, which positions itself as a sober and scholarly publication, though the item in question reads as if it wandered over from the American Thinker:
The Nunes Memo: Just an Opening Act

Landmines left behind by the Obama administration and the Clinton campaign might soon start detonating—on Democrats.

The publication yesterday by the House Intelligence Committee, under the leadership of chairman Devin Nunes, of a four-page summary memo regarding FBI surveillance of a Trump campaign advisor in 2016 is the long-awaited opening act of an extended drama about the Obama administration’s abuse of power—which, when all is revealed, might yet outdo that of the Nixon administration.

Obama concealed his sharp-edged, Chicago-style machine politics under the rhetorical cover of progressivism. He was protected by a press corps that first enlisted in his administration and then fought to stop Donald Trump. But now that Obama is out of office, his ability to intimidate is much diminished....

Obama isn’t directly mentioned in the memo. But he’s nonetheless implicated through his appointees’ apparent efforts to clear Hillary Clinton in her State Department email scandal while undermining her opponent, Trump, through the veneer of legality provided by FISA (the Foreign Intelligence Security Act) warrants....
Oh, so this going to be "an extended drama"? And its villains are Barack Obama and the Clintons?

That was Saturday. Yesterday this appeared at Axios:
"The memo" — which pitted the Justice Department against the White House and brought ugly partisan sniping into stark relief — is only the beginning. Republican sources close to Devin Nunes tell me he's assured them there's much more to come.

... Republicans close to Nunes say there could be as many as five additional memos or reports of "wrongdoing."

... A Republican member briefed on Nunes' investigations told me: "There are several areas of concern where federal agencies used government resources to try to create a narrative and influence the election. Some have suggested coordination with Hillary Clinton operatives, [Sidney] Blumenthal and [Cody] Shearer, to back up the false narrative."
And this morning at the Washington Examiner, Byron York published this:
Dossier author Steele wrote another anti-Trump memo; was fed info by Clinton-connected contact, Obama State Department

A newly released document from the Senate Judiciary Committee says Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled the Trump dossier, wrote an additional memo on the subject of Donald Trump and Russia that was not among those published by BuzzFeed in January 2017.

The newly released document is an unclassified and heavily redacted version of the criminal referral targeting Steele filed on Jan. 4 by Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. It appears to confirm some level of coordination between the extended Clinton circle and the Obama administration in the effort to seek damaging information about then-candidate Trump.

According to the referral, Steele wrote the additional memo based on anti-Trump information that originated with a foreign source. In a convoluted scheme outlined in the referral, the foreign source gave the information to an unnamed associate of Hillary and Bill Clinton, who then gave the information to an unnamed official in the Obama State Department, who then gave the information to Steele. Steele wrote a report based on the information, but the redacted version of the referral does not say what Steele did with the report after that.

Published accounts in the Guardian and the Washington Post have indicated that Clinton associate Cody Shearer was in contact with Steele about anti-Trump research, and Obama State Department official Jonathan Winer was a connection between Steele and the State Department during the 2016 campaign.
Shearer is the brother of the late wife of Strobe Talbott, an Oxford friend of Bill Clinton who became a deputy secretary of state during the Clinton presidency. So history's three greatest monsters -- Barack Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton -- are now the real villains of Russiagate.

Are the Republicans planning to ride this horse all the way to November? Is this the sum total of their message for 2018? Or is this just an effort to goose fundraising ahead of the 2018 midterms? (It's being reported that many vulnerable House Republicans are being out-fundraised by their Democratic opponents.)

I can't believe even Republicans are so blinkered that they believe all this will rally anyone except Fox News diehards. But given the makeup of most congressional districts, maybe that's all they think they need to beat back a strong Democratic challenge.

In any case, spare me the lectures about the Democrats' lack of a "positive message." This is the Republicans' message -- and it's not positive, or a message about governing at all.

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